I recently partook in my first ever ‘virtual cooking demonstration’ and it was so much fun! Chef John Higgins, Director of George Brown Chef School and judge on the popular TV series “Chopped”, teamed up with Minute Rice® to give us some great ideas of spicing up our rice-making routine. He was not only very entertaining, but I learned SO many meal preparation tips and tricks!
I’m not sure why, but I have always just cooked white or brown rice ‘as is’ or in chicken broth, but Chef Higgins totally inspired me to start creating more flavourful rice dishes, as either an accompaniment to a meal, or as the meal itself! (see bottom of this post for a Vegetarian Rice Lasagna!)
Top 10 rice cooking tips from Chef John Higgins
Boil in broth
When boiling rice, substitute water for broth to add flavour to the rice itself and your dish. Chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock are excellent choices. Low-sodium broths add a punch of flavour without the added salt.
Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option.
Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours.
Season early on
Don’t leave your seasoning until the end. Introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into therice’s cooking water.
Enhance your rice dish by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.
Sweeten with fruit
Add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to your cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse yourrice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.
Try rice for breakfast
Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.
Steep your rice
Infuse the rice with your favourite flavour of tea for a fragrant, subtle gourmet taste. Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.
Add zing with zest
For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.
Cut cooking time
Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make. Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.
*Some of my favourite suggestions Chef Higgins gave were to add orange/lemon zest, pineapple juice, ginger, almond butter or roasted nuts to the rice. YUM!
30 minute Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
2 cups (500 ml) Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese, good quality, if possible
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 pkg (10 oz/300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed well to remove liquid
2 cloves (5 g) garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) light ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup (200 g) zucchini, sliced
1 jar (24 oz/700 ml) prepared marinara or home-made pasta sauce
2 cups (500 ml) shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese
2 (145g) tomatoes, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare rice according to package directions. Stir in the parmesan cheese and reserve.
- Place 15 ml of the olive oil in a warm pan, then add the chopped green onions, followed by the spinach, and season with garlic. Cook for one minute. Add salt and pepper, then allow to cool. Mix with ricotta cheese until combined.
- Place the rest of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the sliced zucchini. Cook for 10 seconds on each side. Season to taste. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil and allow to cool.
- Spoon ¼ cup (60 ml) of the marinara sauce into a greased 8-inch (2L) square baking dish. Gently press half of the rice into the baking dish in an even layer; sprinkle with ½ cup (125 ml) mozzarella cheese. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the cheese.
- Top with half of the tomato and zucchini slices, overlapping as needed. Spoon half of the remaining marinara sauce over the slices. Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
- Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 430 calories, 18g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 770mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 23g protein.
“When time is an issue, instant rice is an excellent solution for busy moms and people in a rush,” said Chef Higgins, who is also a judge on the Food Network’s Chopped Canada and former personal chef for the Queen Mother.
“Contrary to common misconceptions, instant rice is as nutritious as long cook rice,” said Norma D’Onofrio, Senior Brand Manager, Minute Rice, explaining that instant rice is long grain rice that is simply pre-cooked, and then dried, in order to significantly cut down on the cooking time required by consumers.
With “pre-cooked rice” as its only ingredient, Minute Rice® is 100% natural and Non-GMO Project Verified (nongmoproject.org). Available in two varieties – Premium Long Grain White Rice and Premium Whole Grain Brown Rice – Minute Rice® takes only five minutesto prepare for white rice and 10 minutes for brown rice.
“Minute Rice® is quick, convenient and healthy, turning out just right every time,” D’Onofrio said. “It’s prepared in a fraction of the time of long cook rice, giving you back the time you’d spend in the kitchen so you can focus on what’s really important.”
COUPON CODE: Available at major retailers, Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice starts from $3.19 for 350g of instant white rice, and from $4.59 for 600g of instant whole grain brown rice. Access – and share – a Save $1 coupon for Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice at https://websaver.ca/en_ca/portal/minute_rice/ . Coupons are available while quantities last, so please act quickly!
Use the rafflecopter form below to win 12 BOXES of Minute Rice® ($60 value) ! A great way to put all these tips to good use! This contest is open to Canadian residents! Good luck!